A lot has changed for the host of Star 94.1’s morning show, “Jenn and Friends,” over the past few years.
She swapped city living in Virginia-Highland for suburban life in Marietta after her husband, Grant Rivera, was named superintendent of Marietta City Schools. She became a mom to two young girls, the younger of whom beat cancer, spurring Hobby and Rivera to become advocates for childhood cancer research, raising more than $157,000 through Reese's MaGIC Fund at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. And, she moved over to Star 94.1 after several years at Kicks 101.5, with an extensive run on the “Bert Show” before that.
One thing that hasn’t changed? Her love of trying new restaurants and revisiting old favorites.
Her tastes might trend more toward family-friendly eateries these days, but she’s still always on the lookout for good date night spots and places for the occasional girls night.
Don’t ask her for breakfast recommendations, though — Hobby starts her day at 3:30 a.m. during the week, so breakfast is typically a quick bite at home or in the studio, and weekends are “our chance to stay at home and be in our pajamas,” she said, though in her pre-kid days she enjoyed Thumbs Up Diner and Murphy’s for a nice breakfast out.
The Gracie and Emmy award winner and Florida State University graduate recently shared some of her favorite local restaurants over lunch at Gabriel’s Restaurant and Bakery, one of the places she discovered after her move.
“I just like eating local, and having a little taste of the neighborhood,” she said of the restaurant, where she favors the chicken salad. “There’s a lot of history here, and it’s kind of like a little local famous spot.”
Favorite place for a cup of coffee: With my schedule now, I have to make it at home. But when we lived in town, I would go to Dancing Goats by Ponce City Market. There was always a little line, but it was always worth the wait for that coffee.
Dancing Goats Coffee Bar. 650 North Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-874-0370, batdorfcoffee.com.
Favorite place for lunch: Usually, if I’m eating lunch out, it’s for a meeting. We’re so grateful for the Battery, which is close to our office. We’ve got some great spots over there. I love El Super Pan. The chef (Hector Santiago) is so cool, he’s always talking to everybody. I love the pressed sandwiches there. El Felix is so good. They have chicken enchiladas there that are awesome, and they have a chicken tortilla soup that’s so, so good. Recently, I met a friend in Midtown at Upbeet. I thought it was a great place for lunch, and the service was really nice. Everybody behind the counter was super friendly and explaining everything. And, if I’m in Buckhead, I love going to Red Pepper Taqueria. They’ve got great tacos, the al pastor is so yummy with the pineapple salsa on it.
El Super Pan. 455 Legends Place, Atlanta. 404-521-6500, elsuperpan.com/the-battery.
El Felix. 455 Legends Place, Atlanta. 770-675-6318, theelfelix.com/the-battery.
Upbeet. 1071 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-347-1071, upbeet.com/menu.
Red Pepper Taqueria. 3135 Piedmont Road, Atlanta. 404-869-2773, eatredpepper.com/buckhead.
Favorite place for happy hour: When I’m able to get out for happy hour, I like Glover Park Brewery here in Marietta. It’s this really cool old, historic building, so there’s all this exposed brick. They did a really nice job with the design, and they always have live music. It’s really family-friendly, too. They don’t serve food, but they have an area for food trucks, which is fun. It has an outdoor, chill vibe, where you still feel cool even when your kids are with you. I’m not a big beer drinker, but I like going to have a craft beer. But, my drink of choice is wine. When I go out for happy hour with friends, I like Bistro Niko in Buckhead. They have a cool bar scene. There’s always a good mixture of socialitey people and business people and everybody always seems happy there. You can go out on that patio that overlooks Peachtree, and it’s just really nice.
Glover Park Brewery. 65 Atlanta St. SE, Marietta. 770-693-2417, gloverparkbrewery.com.
Bistro Niko. 3344 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-261-5456, buckheadrestaurants.com/restaurant/bistro-niko.
Favorite place for a glass of wine: We went to Deep Roots in Roswell recently, which I really liked. It’s a wine market where you can drink wine. You can go in and get a little wine pour, and sample and taste, and then you can buy it right there, too. They’re really knowledgeable, so you can go in there and just be kind of a dummy and say, “I think I like California chardonnay,” and they’ll show you the right section.
Deep Roots Wine Market & Tasting Room. 1055 Canton St., Roswell. 770-676-6146, deeprootswine.com.
Favorite place for a date night dinner: We love the Optimist, that’s always going to be great. ... I’m always diving head-first into the oysters. I don’t cook fish as much at home, so I try to order it when I’m out. So, whatever their seafood special is. Whatever the chef wants to make special, that’s what I want to try. For big celebrations, or double dates, we go to Marcel. It makes you feel rich, or like you’re out of the mob. I usually get the filet. Here in Marietta, there’s a fun, low-key place called Two Birds Tap House. ... They’ve grown and expanded, and I think their food gets better and better.
The Optimist. 914 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-477-6260, theoptimistrestaurant.com.
Marcel. 1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-665-4555, marcelatl.com.
Two Birds Tap House. 2145 Roswell Road, Marietta. 770-509-9464, twobirdstaphouse.com.
Favorite place to have dinner with the kids: Marietta Pizza Co. We’re, like, weekly regulars there. My daughter has to eat gluten-free, and they have gluten-free pizza that she really likes. Everyone can get their favorite slice, and she doesn’t feel like she’s left out. They have a spinach and ’shroom, and it has a lot of garlic on it, too. In Marietta Square Market, there’s an allergy-friendly ice cream shop called Four Fat Cows, and they list everything, like, “dairy-free, egg-free,” and you can see it right there. For families, that’s so nice.
Marietta Pizza Co. 3 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. 770-419-0900, mariettapizza.com.
Four Fat Cows. 64 N. Main St., Marietta. 470-268-5268, fourfatcows.com.
Favorite place for dessert: I don’t do dessert that often, but I’m a big creme brulee person, and they have a trio of it at Canoe that is so good. Each one is a different flavor, usually something traditional, something chocolate and then something sort of different. It’s just enough. Canoe is another place we really love for date night. It’s always going to be good, it’s always going to be great service. Another good one is Little Alley Steak in Buckhead. I was at a business dinner there recently, and the people I was with ordered a bunch of different desserts and they were all so good.
Canoe. 4199 Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 770-432-2663, canoeatl.com.
Little Alley Steak. 3500 Lenox Road NE, Atlanta. 404-254-1899, littlealleysteak.com/Buckhead.
MORE DINING WITH THE STARS:
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